The Tapestry Lawn was planted in the spring of 2020. It was designed as an experimental space to demonstrate how one could grow alternative perennial groundcovers to replace a lawn. The space was meant to be explored, walked on, and observed by all who came across it. The garden was originally planted with clumps of different types of plants, but over the past four years, some plants did much better than others, resulting in our original plant list becoming quite skewed – notably the ‘Short and Sweet’ Silene and the various Veronica species have flourished and dominated the space.
Refreshing the Tapestry
In effort to revitalize the diversity, we took cuttings from the current plants and propagated them this summer to replant in bare spots and to break up some of the more established masses in the Tapestry. We also purchased additional plants from the original list that did not have enough material left to propagate from. For example, orris root was nowhere to be found!
Most lawns have only one or two types of grass, and as a result, thrive or suffer as weather varies. The diverse array of plants in the tapestry thrive under slightly different conditions, but gardeners need to treat it slightly differently than regular turf. These plants like to sprawl all over each other, which is great when you want them to cover 100% of an area, like a lawn. However, it can also create troublesome gaps in some areas but large swathes of just one plant in another. The real key to maintaining these types of spaces is good weeding in establishment periods – making sure to weed things out of the clumps to keep them from being set back and allow everything to grow and fill at the same rate. It is also important to come back and redistribute the more vigorous plants so that less vigorous species can catch up and fill in. This keeps the tapestry diverse–no one said you could have a lawn without any work! Additionally these spaces are prone to water stress – we watered ours up to twice a week in the 2023 season to encourage the establishment and continued growth of all the plants.
Years ago, a donation was made in memory of Pat Moll to commission a set of statues to resemble our Larch Tree. These same statues are now a great backdrop and focal point for a new seating area in the Tapestry that would solve some of its challenges. The idea of a tapestry lawn was to offer a replacement for regular turf grass. This means that it could be treated as turf and take traffic from our visitors and staff. However the space doesn’t project itself as a particularly inviting slice of garden to come walking on, so oftentimes visitors are seen leaning over the edge to get a better look at plant labels. After seeing this as a persistent issue despite hinting at the Tapestry’s walkability to our community, we decided to mix things up and form a new way for visitors to enter and interact with the space. The gaps and open space between plants allowed us to set up a new seating area in the Tapestry. We also added a stone path and our larch statues to encourage everyone to make their way onto this lawn alternative. Now that the empty space is consolidated into a path we can expect our more vigorous species to fill and finalize our space in the coming season. Come and enjoy the Tapestry with a more inviting path to guide you into the space, sit and enjoy, or venture further to explore all the plants up and close!